Special Report

The 10 Weirdest Things Thieves Steal

6. Nutella

Stolen Nutella has been reported over the world. In Germany, around 11,000 pounds of Nutella, a popular hazelnut spread, valued roughly at $20,000, was lifted from a parked cargo truck last year. Around the same time, a Nutella-related crisis emerged at Columbia University. After students successfully petitioned to have Nutella offered in the cafeteria, they proceeded to steal it at unsustainable rates — about 100 pounds a day. As a result, the school incurred unexpected expenses. Nutella theft is likely the result of its high cost combined with high demand.

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7. Sap

Producing maple syrup is a labor intensive process. About 40 gallons of sap are required to produce one gallon of syrup, which sells for many times the equivalent amount of oil. Harvesting sap, which depends on a pattern of cooling and thawing, has become more challenging with the unusual weather conditions in recent years. In 2012, there was a large-scale heist in Quebec, which produces much of the world’s maple syrup. Thieves stole millions of dollars worth of syrup from a Canadian warehouse, leading to more than a dozen arrests.

8. Shrubbery

House and porch plants are not typically thought of as valuable and worthwhile targets of theft. Potted plants and small landscape features, however, can be vulnerable to thieves. In recent years, there have been numerous cases of shrubbery theft where potted plants went missing and ordinary lawns were left damaged. These petty thefts may not be part of organized crime operations, but plant values can reach extreme highs. According to The Guardian, there is a legal ornamental plant market worth billions of dollars, and the high demand among collectors attracts illicit activity. The most coveted plants are species of rare orchid and cacti. Some plants traded on the black market are of endangered species and can be hundreds of years old. Cycads can be worth more than a $1,000 per specimen and are frequently stolen around the world.

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9. Small boats

During the summer months, when boats are parked on the water or in backyards, it is common for thieves to break in and lift fishing equipment, electronics, and other accessories from the boat. Although it seems the boat itself would be safe, small privately owned boats are surprisingly susceptible to theft, particularly due to their size. Many are stored on trailers, ready to be hitched and driven to the lake and making it surprisingly easy for thieves to make off with them. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were more than 1,400 boat thefts in Florida in 2012, more than in any other state, and more than 5,800 such thefts nationwide. That year, jet skis were particularly popular among thieves.

10. Steak

Several years of drought in the U.S. have hampered food production across the board, lowering farm yield from corn and cattle. With lower supplies, in addition to rising demand for beef overseas, the value of the meat has risen considerably. Steak, one of the more coveted and expensive cuts of beef has also become more popular as the economy has recovered. When prices go up, thieves m make a profit from stolen goods, and steak is no exception. But theft is increasing at every stage of the production process. According to an NPR newscast last year, cattle theft increased dramatically from the year before, with more than 10,000 cows or horses going missing in 2013.

Correction: In a previous version of the article Rich Mellor’s name was misspelled as Mueller

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